Each year the following awards are presented. Prizes vary from year to year. Check below for 2003 prizes.

Honorary Maverick Award
Best Feature (awarded to first time feature filmmaker)
Best Feature Documentary (awarded to first time feature filmmaker)
Best Short Film
Best Short Documentary
Best Student Film
Best Animated Film (judged and presented by animator Bill Plympton and panel)

The Elmer Bernstein Award for Best Film Score
will be presented by Mr. Bernstein to the film score that in his opinion best serves the nature of the film. Over the past fifty years, Elmer Bernstein has written a formidable number of major movie scores, including some of the most identifiable of all time – To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, My Left Foot to name a few. His most recent scores were composed for Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York and Todd Haynes’s Far From Heaven.

The Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography will be presented by Mr. Haskell Wexler. Haskell Wexler, A.S.C. (Bound for Glory, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Coming Home, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe, The Secret of Roan Inish), is a five-time Academy Award nominee and the recipient of a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Always politically active, Wexler directed the Oscar-winning documentary Interviews With My Lai Veterans, Introduction to the Enemy (co-director) and the fiction film Latino, and was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury for the tapes and footage of Underground, a chronicle of the Weather Underground movement.

The handcrafted Maverick Award trophies are created by Woodstock artist Steve Heller of Fabulous Furniture


The Woodstock Film Festival Maverick Award takes its name from the original Woodstock arts colony of the early 1900s, which valued independence and social responsibility expressed through the arts.

This year, the festival is proud to announce that the Honorary Maverick Award will be presented to Tim Robbins for his social consciousness, intelligence, independence and creativity, as demonstrated in his body of work.  

As the son of folksinger Gil Robbins, Tim is no stranger to the art of dissent. He got his start performing protest songs with his dad. In his work as a multifaceted filmmaker and in his private life, Tim continues to associate with political and social activism, championing causes including union rights and opposition to the death penalty.

At the age of twelve, Robbins joined the Theatre for the New City in New York’s East Village. After attending the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, then UCLA, he joined the Actor's Gang, an avant-garde theater troupe. In 1988, he broke onto the film scene as a baseball player in Bull Durham, in which he starred opposite Susan Sarandon. A string of films followed, including Jacob’s Ladder and Robert Altman’s The Player, for which he received Best Actor kudos at the Cannes Film Festival.

 In 1992, Robbins wrote, directed, starred in and performed the music in Bob Roberts, a mockdocumentary that parodied politics on the campaign trail.

 Roles followed in Altman’s Short Cuts and Ready to Wear, The Hudsucker Proxy from the Coen Brothers and the Oscar-nominated The Shawshank Redemption.

 In 1995, Robbins wrote and directed Dead Man Walking a film about a convicted murderer on death row and the nun who finds empathy for him, the victims and their families. The film, which challenged public perception of the death penalty, earned Robbins an OscarÒ nomination for Best Director. Sean Penn garnered a Best Actor nomination and Susan Sarandon was awarded the OscarÒ for Best Actress.

Cradle Will Rock followed in 1999. Based on Marc Blitzstein’s play, the film explores the relationship between art, unions, politics and greed with humor, suspense, music and intelligence. That same year, Robbins portrayed a suburban terrorist in Arlington Road.

In 2002 Robbins co-starred with Patricia Arquette and Rhys Ifans in Human Nature. This fall, he’ll be seen as Mr. Bartholomew in Jonathan Demme’s The Truth About Charlie, and he is set to appear in Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River in 2003.

Jurors: Lemore Syvan – producer, Sabine Hoffman – editor, Bingham Ray  - president, United Artists, Ted Hope – producer, Stephen Garrett  – Time Out, NY
by Neil Burger

Sometimes it takes only one man to make a conspiracy. Ron Kobeleski, an out-of-work TV news cameraman, may have just stumbled onto the story of a lifetime. His shadowy older neighbor, Walter Ohlinger, has summoned over Ron and his camera, saying he's got a secret to reveal. What's the big secret? Walter claims he was the "grassy knoll gunman" - the second assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Is he telling the truth? As Ron and Walter search for the only witness who can back up the story, the pressure mounts and their lives begin to unravel. First-time writer/director Neil Burger has meticulously crafted Interview with the Assassin to feel like a verité documentary, masterfully creating a chilling realness and accumulation of detail, but making it seem offhanded and spontaneous. The actors are mesmerizing, especially character-actor Raymond J. Barry in an unbelievable performance as the inscrutable Walter. Interview with the Assassin will challenge your assumptions. Also starring Dylan Haggerty, Renee Faia, Jared McVay and Kate Williamson.Print courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.



Jurors:  Cara Mertes – executive director, Paola Freccero – Sundance Channel
Leon Gast – filmmaker
by Jeff Blitz

This is a window on the American dream. From the hardscrabble plains of Texas, to the manicured lawns of Connecticut, from the Ozark countryside, to the D.C. projects, Spellbound chronicles the lives of eight American teenagers who each set out to win the National Spelling Bee.

For more info visit http://www.spellbound.tv


Jurors: Larry Fessenden – director (Wendigo, Habit, No Telling), Micheal Ellenbogen - producer (Margaritta Happy Hour), programmer (Manchester Film Festival), Elizabeth Peters – Executive Director, AIVF

BROKEN by Patrick Downs
by Patrick Downs

While trying to break up a domestic argument, a police officer loses his cool when the female victim rebuffs his attempts to help her.  A comic chase ensues. The officer almost convinces her to press charges when a call to rescue a woman locked out of her house turns his efforts upside down.  With Jerry Della Salla, Savannah Haske, Melanie Vesey, Ray Jarrell and Nolan Tuffy.


Jurors: Sarah Plant – composer (see advisory board for bio)
Zachary Sklar – screenwriter (see advisory board for bio)


by Til Passow


Howrah Station is the central station of Calcutta, India and one of the largest stations in Asia.  Apart from its importance as a junction for transients and cargo transports, Howrah Station epitomizes the circuit of life of a major Indian city.  It is a place of extraordinary intensity and extreme polarities. Howrah Howrah leads to this place full of life, movement, joy and affliction and shows the versatility of Calcutta and the chaos anarchically carving one’s way through the microcosm of the station.




Jurors: Jeremiah Newton – film industry liaison (NYU), screenwriter, Clayton Patterson – internationally known video artist, Barbara Saltzman – owner, alternativevideo.com

by Catherine Tingey (Columbia University)

Maxie Ward, a grocery clerk, is dreaming of astrology and the boy of her dreams.  After consulting her horoscope, she decides to confront her object of desire, Trevor Gordon. When her best friend sabotages her efforts, Maxie realizes that nothing is what it seems when you’re sixteen and infatuated.


Judged and presented by pioneering animator Bill Plympton

by David Russo

An experimental animation film featuring the creation, evolution, and journey of humanoid sculptures through time-lapsed environments.

The ELMER BERNSTEIN AWARD, judged and presented by the acclaimed film composer Elmer Bernstein.
No prize was awarded this year.




The HASKELL WEXLER AWARD, judged by the renowned cinematographer, was presented to KHALED cinematographer: Luc Montpellier.  The film was directed by Aisling Walsh.

A ten-year-old boy keeps his mother's death a secret to avoid being sent to a foster home. While juggling pressure from a crooked landlord, a nosy social worker, and suspicious neighbors, the boy finds solace in his relationships with his best friend and an elderly woman. This drama by Asghar Massombagi can be taken as a one-of-a-kind thriller, as well as the poetic story of a young outsider, discriminated against because of his social position and racial difference. With Michael D'Ascenzo, Michelle Duquet, Normand Bissonnette, Michael Kanev, Lynne Deragon, John Ralston, Gerry Quigley, Joanne Boland, Richard Banel, Alex Hood, Bryn Mcauly and Paul Lee.


The Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography was sponsored by Kodak.



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